Choose Your Addiction Wisely

Steve and I post independently of one another. I get to read his blogs the same way you do which is when they’re published. Yesterday, when I read his post titled “We’re All Drug Addicts” I knew I had to write my own thoughts on a topic about which I have first-hand knowledge. In fact, when Heath Ledger overdosed, I was contacted by several media outlets to weigh in on the subjects of addiction, suicide and drug overdose. (A fully developed interview of me following Ledger’s death can be listened to here.)

Meditation2Anti-depressants are proven to lead to and/or increase incidents of suicidal thinking. In my twenties I battled depression and anxiety. A physician put me on anti-depressants and tranquilizers to combat the condition. When I realized I was addicted to the medications I decided to stop taking them. Shortly thereafter, I tried to commit suicide and came very close to succeeding. It was a turning point in my life as it awakened me to the realization that I  had to either do it again and succeed or begin to live my life differently. I choose the latter.

It is now decades later and I live a joyful and rewarding life. In no small part it’s due to a different addiction. I meditate daily. Your reaction may be “Well, that’s stretching it a bit since mediation is hardly an addiction.”

But it is.

I need to meditate every day. I’m at a loss when I don’t get my “fix” of that meditative state. Without those feelings of peace, joy, calm and clarity that I receive from meditation I feel tense, discontent, frazzled and off my game. So you see, I am addicted. But I’ve also consciously chosen my addiction because it enhances rather than diminishes the quality of my life.

The point is that it may just be human nature to be addicted. Some choose alcohol, drugs, pornography, chocolate, gambling, serial adultery, masturbation, twitter, clothes shopping…whatever. Regardless, we humans have Free Will and so get to choose that to which we are addicted.

For me, the contrast is no contest. On drugs, I was sedated, slow of thought and harming vital organs with unnecessary and toxic side effects. On meditation, I am sharp of mind, peaceful of spirit, accepting of life and creative of soul.

So to paraphrase Steve, if we’re all addicted remember: You get to choose to what.


We Are All Drug Addicts

I was at a bachelor party a few years for a friend of mine who was about to get married. The party was in New York City at an exclusive club and all the people seemed successful. They all had very good jobs. The majority of them had families and each seemed stable and well adjusted. After the dinner, I went to the bathroom and ended up standing with my good friend Alex waiting  for a stall to open. He said that we’d be there forever if we didn’t do something. It seemed the whole dinner party was doing drugs in the stalls. He winked at me then kicked down 2 of the stall doors.  Inside those stalls were the people from our dinner party snorting cocaine… huddled as if around a campfire, each trying to get their fix.

drugsAs Alex kicked the bathroom doors in, the drugs went flying as the men scrambled out of the stalls thinking they had been busted by either the police or the bouncer. However, once they saw it was my friend Alex who had created the havoc, they all turned on him cursing and screaming for scaring the hell out of them. More importantly, it seemed ,was their anger over the wasted cocaine. I’m not uninformed. I  know people do drugs. But, I never thought this group of people would be doing drugs. To be so open about it and to risk doing it in such a public place, left me dumbfounded.

Alex was a broker on Wall Street and his job was to entertain people. He told me “all of my clients do drugs.”

Once we returned to the table, I couldn’t look at the people in quite the same way. Given the high profile nature of Wall Street jobs, none of the major firms wants their employees to end up in the newspapers. I am a firm believer in personal freedom. However, with freedom comes personal responsibility. The way I looked at it, these guys were taking huge risks for a moment of pleasure.  I’ve seen plenty of people fired for getting caught doing stupid stuff and it can alter your career, not to mention your life, forever.

Coincidentally, a few weeks later I drove to Massachusetts for a small get-together. I ended up drinking beer with a DEA agent who worked drug enforcement all over the country. As we enjoyed our beers he regaled me with stories of the drug trade in the U.S. He told me he had been in the DEA for over 25 years and over the last 5 years he had never been busier. I thought that was ironic given that as far as I knew drug use had gone down over recent years. He said that the DEA figures estimate drug use in the United States at over 70% of the population! I was shocked. He further explained that you have to look at drug use through a different lens-given the rise of the pharmaceutical industry. It’s simply a fact that more and more people were getting addicted to pharmaceutical drugs. “The doctors are the new drug dealers” he informed me. Brene Brown, American scholar, author and public speaker has said, “For the first time in history the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has announced that drug overdose is the leading cause of death now beating automobile deaths. More people die from prescription drugs overdoses obtained from their friends, relatives and physicians.”

As the DEA Agent and I continued to talk, he suggested a small test. “Next time you’re in New York City count the amount of pharmacies you see.”  So, the next day when I was back in NY I did just that. I counted 4 large pharmacies in my 3 block area. That’s 1 1/3 per block! When I grew up there in the 70’s I might have been lucky to find 1 pharmacy every 10 blocks. Now it appeared there was probably 1 every 2 blocks. All I could of think was when did this happen?  The bottom line is that these pharmacies wouldn’t be there if there were not customers (aka “users”) seeking what they are selling (aka “pushing”).

Personally, I don’t take any type of drugs. That’s the mirror I hold up to my children. When I do get sick and take the over the counter drugs I get completely knocked out. I remember a few years ago I had to take a cold medicine while at work and ended up in the infirmary taking a nap as I couldn’t keep my eyes open. Today, due to its potency and likelihood of being used by kids as part of a drug cocktail, many pharmacies now keep cold medicines behind the counter.

Why are our kinds on drugs? Perhaps we should start with their parent’s medicine cabinet for the answer.  “Do as I say and not as I do” has never worked. Nowhere is that truer than when 70% of one generation is doing something it is judging and condemning in the next generation.

From this vantage point, what is happening to our society all begins to make sense. Our government could not be doing what it is in fact doing if the citizens were awake and aware of the ever-encroaching centralized control and police state that now confronts us. Our politicians routinely break the law because they know that neither the justice system nor the media will hold them accountable. The citizens, for their part, are conveniently too distracted and sedated to care thanks to a joint effort between big pharmaceutical companies and big government

For the rest of us who are sober, clean, awake and aware…watching the U.S implode is like watching a fatal car crash in slow motion.


Make Your Own People

“All fathers are intimidating. They’re intimidating because they are fathers. Once a man has children, for the rest of his life, his attitude is, To hell with the world, I can make my own people. I’ll eat whatever I want. I’ll wear whatever I want, and I’ll create whoever I want.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Jerry Seinfield,  Comedian / Writer

I never knew I would have 6 kids and if you asked me 20 years ago that I would be a father of 6, I would have thought you were crazy. The fact is I did not plan it this way but my wife and I felt it was always important to embrace life and as the kids came, we were overjoyed.  Given the large responsibility of raising so many kids, I don’t have a lot of time for much else, so my kids have become my social circle, to paraphrase who needs friends when you make your own people. Having 6 kids is expensive, time consuming and leaves me completely exhausted. However there is no greater joy for me than spending time with my family.Illegal Alien

But most of the Western World no longer has kids as they once did and even in the U.S are birth rates are declining. Patrick Buchanan wrote a great book called “Death of the West”  in which he talks about the consequences of the Western World no longer having kids. Given the huge population explosions in Latin America, Asia and Africa, this new growing class of people are set to cause massive shifts in global power. The fact is the West is dying and soon to be replaced with a new world order.

Over the last 20 years countries in Europe have had a huge influx of immigrants mostly from the Arab world and this is where it gets interesting. Native French families are having less than 2 babies per family which is below the replacement level to keep the population growing, while the French Arab immigrants have birth rates much higher (close to 6 per family). In his book, Buchanan believes that given these rates, France will become a Muslim country with over 50% of the population being Muslim by 2050. It is the ultimate conquest of a nation, and in this case a culture, without firing a shot.

The United States is currently being invaded by Latin America with thousands of illegals crossing the border every day. There is currently no limit on this escalating influx. The US border patrol is now releasing these people into the United States absent any way to control or document the flow of illegals. I think the reasons are two fold:

  • The abortion of over 50 million Americans since Roe v. Wade
  • The Social Security “Ponzi Scheme.”

Given that the U.S has aborted over 50 million babies since Roe v. Wade was passed, we have had more abortions in this country than anyone ever anticipated (except perhaps Progressives like Margaret Sanger who founded Planned Parenthood as a means of eliminating minority and “unsavory” populations). All of contributions those lives lost could have had on our culture was destroyed in the womb. But if you combine a lower birth rate with 50 million abortions with an overall aging population you care bound to find yourselves in the predicament we now face…such as the U.S government’s many promises to its citizens that it can no longer keep. To wit: Social Security.

Social Security is the retirement fund that all Americans pay into so that once they hit 65 they can collect their retirement payout. The fact is that Social Security is a Ponzi Scheme. There is no money in the fund andwhat was there was either spent rightfully or raided by Congress for other purposes! The only thing that is in the Social Security fund are IOU’s !  As a result, this is how Social Security works today:

  • 25 year old James pays $1,000 a month into Social Security and,
  • Social Security takes James $1,000 dollars and pays Mike (aged 65)

The moment we run out of young people that can pay the retires, the system collapses. That moment is on the horizon and soon. The US government prosecutes and takes Ponzi schemes very seriously and will send you to jail if you enrage in one (see Bernie Madoff). The irony is that the US government runs the largest Ponzi scheme in the history of the world and is beyond prosecution… or accountability for that matter.

To understand the scam and how it relates to illegal aliens you need to know the following:

  • It is illegal to knowingly hire an illegal alien in the U.S.
  • As proof of documentation illegals get fake illegal Social Security numbers and by doing so the companies that hire them are no longer held liable.
  • When the company pays the illegal and deducts money from his paycheck to pay Social Security, that money then goes to pay the current retirees.
  • The illegal can never collect his Social Security benefits because he is not an American citizen.

So then, here  is a major factor in the Federal government’s love affair with illegal immigrants.  Our elected officials can mask the fraud that the U.S. government is currently engaged in as they ride out their prosperous careers. They then exit the system having become personally enriched, provided for in retirement… yet leaving behind a corrupted and broken system that cannot serve the people who elected them.

One is left to ask…what’s wrong with this picture?


Steve Clark

A Recipe for Surviving Change

It’s certainly easy to become frustrated, angered, even enraged at national and global events. Terrorists are summarily released from Guantanamo to inevitably return to their pursuit of our destruction; original IRS files under investigation, allegedly lacking any archived copies, suddenly disappear and the hard drive that housed them is destroyed; literally thousands of illegal immigrants pour across our southern border daily while the Federal government, charged with our protection, stands by idle and silent; the most radical of radical Islamic terrorists murderously and savagely tear their way through Iraq seizing cities and imposing Sharia Law as they go, negating the efforts we made and the lives we sacrificed to bring that nation a chance for freedom; food and energy prices soar upward while we are told there is no inflation and one hundred million, one third of our population, are unemployed.

ThreatYes, it is definitely easy to be overwhelmed and enraged…easy and terribly wrong.

Overwhelmed people feel victimized and are susceptible to manipulation by anyone promising an end to their frustrations. Enraged people are reactive, fail to reason and consequently, think before they act. Neither false prophets nor indiscriminate actions can serve us now.

The change needed is very simple, if not necessarily easy.

  1. Pull back to your most basic and immediate needs and environment.
  2. Ask yourself, “How will gratuitous anger serve me?
  3. Ask yourself,” What can I do to simplify my life and reduce stress?”
  4. Reach out to neighbors, friends or colleagues to establish a community of support for one another.
  5. Commit to not allowing yourself to be seduced into blame, violence or hatred of others.
  6. Identify and stand firm in your core beliefs regardless of their political correctness…so long as those beliefs are not at the expense of another.
  7. Hold fast to faith in humankind’s awakening to the realization that united we stand and divided we fall as All are One.
  8. Allow truth to emerge from within you rather than allow an agenda to be imposed upon you.

Every historical period has its challenges. This one is no exception. What causes pain and suffering is not change. It’s our resistance to change. The world is changing in rapid and profound ways. Old patterns of behavior and correction will not work. When we switched from horse and buggy to the combustion engine, you could not fuel that engine with oats…although those oats worked just fine under the old system.

Rather than judge who did what and how we got here, let’s use our intellects, our hearts, and our individual uniqueness to co-create solutions. The dawn of a new day brings the opportunity to either repeat yesterday or live today anew.

Free Will. You get to choose.


Count The Money

“There is no other reason for being in business but to count the money. If you don’t concentrate on counting the money people soon realize that money is not the focus of your consciousness, so they give you everything other than money-kudos, acclaim, praise, etc., and sooner or later you’ll be in trouble.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Stuart Wilde, Author

In the mid 2000’s I worked at Merrill Lynch as a bond trader. At the time we were considered one of the premier investment banks in the world and to work there was really quite amazing. I worked with some really smart and remarkable people, but it had its price. At the end of every day, every trader from every area had to mark his book to determine how much money he had made or lost while the salesman had to tally their production credits to gauge how effective their sales were that day. Needles to say it was quite stressful to be measured each and every day to see how profitable we were. The fact is that Merrill Lynch counted the money each and every day and was always concerned about growing the bottom line.

However two events transpired during that time, well before the financial crisis hit, that I took as a signal that the firm was doomed.

The 1st event was the AIDS moneyQuilt

I use to get to work at 6:45 am every day eager and ready to go when one day, I walked in the main building in lower Manhattan to see a huge AIDS quilt adorning the main lobby. All I could think of was “That is a really weird thing to display in the lobby of an investment bank.” The lobby should have had a monument to the all mighty dollar because every person in that place was there to make lots of money. But upon reflection, what Merrill Lynch wanted people to know is that even though we were an investment bank, they really cared about the gay community and people who had suffered from the AIDS virus. It was the cheapest form of self-promotion and self-aggrandizement I had ever seen.

The best use of a bank’s time is making money, increasing share holder value and managing risk. If Merrill Lynch had done that better they would not have gone bankrupt (nearly) and had to have been sold to Bank of America. Since Merrill Lynch was a premier bank, they thought their status would always be just that and thus turned their focus to improving their “corporate image.”

As a result of Merrill’s mismanagement of finances, thousands of employees were fired, pension funds were decimated and hundreds of thousands of people who relied upon their income from Merrill Lynch investments were adversely affected. So were the firm’s employees. When Merrill Lynch was focused solely upon the money, more lives benefited and the individual employees had more money to give to charities. Now in 2014,all of these former stakeholders  have less money than they did in 2008 and their ability to give to charity has been greatly reduced. The irony is that when Merrill Lynch was focusing on helping the downtrodden less money, not more, actually flowed to them.

The 2nd Event was the hiring of Stanley O’Neal

At the time of his hiring by Merrill Lynch, Stanley Lynch was perceived to be as shrewd shrewd as he was tough at cost cutting. His grandfather was supposedly a slave and Stan’s upbringing and perseverance to land the top job at Merrill was roundly lauded. Stan had worked on the assembly line at GM, paid his way through college and eventually went to Harvard. He had a successful career at General Motors, as well as within Merrill Lynch, before he landed the top job. He ran the company between 2003 and 2008 and during that time he destroyed the company which was subsequently forced to merge with Bank of America.

Although Stan made some of the same mistakes that his counterparts did at Lehman and Bear Stearns, I want to focus on the part that always caught my attention. During his term as President of the firm, he always made it well known that the bank was the only one run by a minority and, specifically, an African-American. You would be hard pressed to scan the news archives between 2002-2004 without seeing that Merrill Lynch was run by a minority as well as the bank championing the cause of minorities in senior positions of responsibility. I believe Merrill Lynch’s laser like focus with the press, as well as within the firm, regarding the color of Stan’s’ skin masked and distracted from his deficiencies. The firm, the street and the general public wanted him to succeed because of what he represented. Instead of focusing on the person, the firm decided to focus on the persona and this is what doomed the firm. Once the firm realized what Stan O’Neal had done to the firm ( loading up on debt and not tending to the firm) it was too late.

I believed then, and still do today, that the firm’s misplaced focus on two political fantasies, corporate charity and minority hiring, sowed the seeds of the firm’s destruction. If Merrill Lynch had devoted more time to what it was created to do, maximize legitimate gain and less to the political correctness of its public image within the gay and black communities, more money would have flowed to its investors and onward to charitable causes.

That’s how uninterrupted capitalism actually works.

Steve Clark



The Coming Pension Crisis

Pensions in America were once part of the American corporate fabric for many years. Corporations agreed to pay into the retiree accounts for a period of time and after the worker retired he would expect to see a monthly check upon retirement.

The pension problem in America

The pension problem in America

For example this was what the employee had to do:

  • Joe Smith had to work for 30 years.
  • He had to invest a portion of his check into his pension plan while the company did as well.
  • Joe Smith would then retire and start drawing a monthly check until he died.
  • The check that he received was usually a percentage of what he made. So if Joe made $100,000  a year, Joe might expect to see 70% of that, so $70,000 dollars per year.
  • This pension was guaranteed and had to be paid.

This is what the company’s responsibilities were:

  • Invest in the pension system
  • Invest at a rate of 8% for 30 years………………..and this is where the break down began.

Given the amount of manipulation that the Federal Reserve has engaged in, rates have not been at 8% for a long time. The Federal Reserve in order to create growth in the U. S has kept rates at artificially low levels for years. Because of this, the company’s have not been able to earn a safe return of 8% and thus most private pension funds have been underfunded for a long time. The press will try to report this under-funding as a failure of the company’s, but when safe investments only return around 3% it is basic math that the pension funds will be under funded.

Because we live in an environment where interest rates are manipulated to such low levels, private pensions will become a thing in the past. Most companies are moving people off the pension plans over to 401k’s whereby the individual is responsible for his own retirement.

The bankruptcy of General Motors also exposed the light into the faults of the private pension system.  Over the course of may years the union leadership was able to extract many generous concessions out of GM’s management, and as GM  increased the benefits to its workers, GM became more and more un-competitive. In the end due to the enormous concessions that GM gave its workforce it was no longer a viable company and was forced to go bankrupt. (This was not the only reason but truly a significant one)

In a normal bankruptcy pensions are negotiated along with all of its debts. However given that pensions are an agreement between 2 parties, they are not senior in rank to creditors ( the people who actually lent money to GM). In the case of GM’s bankruptcy pension holders received all of their money while the creditors took a massive haircut ( When unions can deliver hundreds of thousand of vote who needs the rule of law). Employees who worked at GM but were not in the union lost their jobs and saw their pensions wiped out. GM is no longer really a free market company but rather as the new nickname now implies GM has become Government Motors.

Government Motors now operates like any other public sector employees union. The government sector employees that work for the taxpayer have generous pensions that so far surpass anything in the private sector that I believe this will become  a major battle that will take place in the years to come.  Thirty years ago a public employee use to make less then its civilian counterpart and the trade off was that the government employee would get as a benefit a more generous retirement package.

Nowadays public sector employees get paid better than their civilian counterparts with more generous benefits and only have to work 20 years to get it. How is is possible that public employees who get paid out of tax payer money make more money than their civilian counterparts? Currently their are over 90 million Americans not working so that means more money is being taken out of the private sector and given to public employees.

The previous trade off in working in the private sector is that you would make more money given that the private sector is a riskier place to work. A person working at a company can be fired, downsized, and  is subject to the whims of the consumer,etc.. Nowadays the public sector worker is immune to any job loss. It is virtually impossible to be fired once you get a job on the government. What the public sector unions don’t realize is that this is eventually going to crack. The next major to take place in the U.S I believe will be between the producers and the public sector workers who have been milking this cow for way too long and the taxpayer who can longer afford to pay him.


Steve Clark

Liar, Liar Pants on Fire

I vividly remember why I did not vote for Barack Obama in 2008. I had been browsing the stacks at a Barnes and Noble and came across a small book written by a former New York Times writer, an African-American who laid out the case that Barack Obama was in search of an identity based upon his bi-racial upbringing combined with early childhood exposure to policies and agendas both foreign and domestic. The author, himself a product of mixed racial parentage, suggested Obama was wrong for the job and even implied that combined with the Senator’s professional and political inexperience…perhaps even a hazard.

OLiesThe book never made much of an impact. It was an opportunity lost. We now know, through hindsight and with certainty, the author knew what he was talking about.

It’s hard to know where to begin in cataloging this President’s errors, failures, missteps and lies. From Obama’s multiple unilaterally decreed amendments to Obamacare; broken assurances that Obamacare would not only reduce premiums $2500 per year but also allow people to keep their doctors; faulty judgment in supporting Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt; security failures in Benghazi; a Department of Justice that has covered up the Fast & Furious scandal; selective targeting of conservative groups by the IRS; a systematic process for obscuring the truth about medical care for our Veterans and, most recently, freeing five deadly Islamic extremist terrorists in exchange for one alleged deserter.

So here we are with two years left to a Presidency few people trust and for good reason. President Obama has misled, and at more times than I’d like to think, lied to the very people who put their trust in him. While I was not one of them I none-the-less expected more of him than what we got.

In addition to that book at Barnes and Noble, I recall an astrological chart that had been done on the President at the time of his election. It was on the Internet and compiled by a well-known Vedic (Indian) astrologer. In the last paragraph it said this President would enter the office as one of the most beloved leaders and exit it one of the most despised. This, I believe, will occur.

Whether it was the book or the chart, we would have been better off following one or the other rather than a man who promised “Hope and Change” but has delivered, above all, deception and corruption.  I doubt this President has ever been “above the fray” other than having an ego-based perspective that what he does is sacrosanct and beyond legitimate inquiry.  Which, of course, is not higher ground.


Instruments Of Debt

Having grown up in a large city I know full well how the public education system works. I grew up in the 70’s in New York City on the west side. My neighborhood bordered Hell’s Kitchen ( an Irish Mafia enclave), the housing projects where the lower class lived, and Spanish Harlem to the north. My child hood was not safe by any means and I was mugged, robbed and beaten up by a collection of these packs during my formative years. Given the quality of degenerates that bordered my dwelling, my parents sent me to a Catholic school in order for me to get a decent education.


The public schools in my neighborhood were really bad and every one knew it. These schools were merely warehouses to hold the delinquents until they moved on. The teachers were out manned, the schools run down and the level of instruction was minimal. As always there were heroic students  who actually went there to learn, but given the circumstances it was really hard for them to get ahead.

Between 2000-2010 I lived in Jersey City and in many ways the area was the same as NYC in the 70’s including the schools. I actually got to know many of the students from some of these schools and although they were all great kids for the most part, the majority were illiterate. In one particular case I helped write a high school’s senior report and I was amazed that this kid could barely read or write. His writing skills were probably no better than a 3rd grader and although he was proud of the work he did, it slowly dawned on him during our meetings he had been woefully unprepared to tackle life. In no way could I tell you the sorrow that I felt for this kid as I was truly heartbroken on what the school system had done to him. They had robbed him of a future, he had wanted to learn but none of the teachers had helped him or maybe they were not capable of helping him.

There is a running joke in Baltimore that the public school system is otherwise known as pre-prison. In most cases the public education system in most major U.S  cities has evolved into a public works project for teachers, administrators, suppliers and the related parties. The kids and their education is more of an afterthought. The public sector unions in education has found a way to get job security, pensions,and cushy jobs and if somehow these kids learn anything, it is a perk. John Stossel has done some great work on the public education system and I recommend taking a look at his work here:    For whatever reason the teachers are either incapable or incompetent to teach this generation of kids. Charter schools have come about as a way to get some of these kids into new schools outside the public education system and many of these parents are desperate for help, but the main opposition has been the same teachers unions. If you want a better understanding of this take a look at the great documentary “Waiting on Superman”.

After these kids are sent out in the real world and realizes they can’t compete, many of these same kids turn to crime as a way to survive. If these kids do end up in prison they again become a cash cow to the prison system as these felons need to be fed, housed, administered, and counseled…there is a lot of money in keeping people stupid and in prison. The angst and anger that this underclass has is well deserved and at some point it will explode once more as history repeats itself (Watts, Detroit, etc). The U.S political class has been able to tame this mass of people through food stamps and welfare but with 90 million people in the U.S no longer working due to this economic downturn the next up-rising really will be something to behold.

Given that public education is funded by taxpayers currently there is simply less dollars to go around given the economic landscape. The  mobs of administrators and teachers something  will want to be satiated  but the cities will have to curtail spending in order to pay down the debts.  The ending will be horrific and comical in nature; an underclass rioting to survive with the unions by their side asking for more

Steven Clark


Failure as a Guide

In 1992 I first entered into an Aikido dojo and took my 1st class,at the time I was in the best physical shape in my life. In my first class of doing Aikido I was horrendous, I couldn’t even do the most basic of movements. I had always considered myself athletic, I had been an athlete in high school and in college- playing football, wrestling and doing a variety of marital arts  so for me to go into an Aikido class and fail stupendously caught my attention.


The hardest part of Aikido is that it is unnatural, when you move to the right it is done by first shifting your weight on the left. In Aikido the 1st motion is to defend and not to strike, to move back instead of forward and this is unlike other sports where moving fast, forward and with power is required. In my 1st year alone I must have taken over 300 classes and was only marginally better after the year. When I looked around the mat,  I always noticed how gracefully all the senior students moved. It was only on further inspection that the majority had been training for over 10 years. It was the time, work and consistency of practice that made them good. And as such, I emulated their regimes and after 10 years I finally became a black belt.

If I had known starting out that it would have taken over 10 years to master Aikdio I probably would never have started. It would have seemed too long, too time consuming to master, but after 10 years in training I became a black belt. The joke in Aikido is that once you obtain your black belt it is only then your education really begins. For me getting my black belt in Aikido only left me with the feeling how inadequate I was in the sport, and that was the paradox of the sport. It is analogous to reading a book on a subject you think you really know only to realize how little you do know.

To get good at any technique in Aikdio is a long arduous process as at 1st you really can’t do anything; but it is the process that really helped me understand success. In that in order to get good at something I first had to risk to be really bad at something. Most people never master Aikido because they don’t want to look foolish but it is this vulnerability in any new endeavor that makes us grow and become better versions of ourselves.

We see this all the time in business where the media loves to portray people as overnight successes but when the veil is uncovered we usually find out that person had  put in lots of time and effort to become a success. Success takes time. In the realm of business, owners find out right away what works and what does not and are punished for the mistakes they make. It is the process that makes them become good at their craft. In a sense it is rewarding to get that instant feedback if your efforts are being fruitful or not.

Contrast this to politics where failure and continued failure is rewarded.We all seem to understand that success in business takes skill and mastery but when applied to the field of politics we all seem to throw out our common sense. Take the latest government foray into health care otherwise known as ObamaCare. Crafted by Barack Obama who is not a Dr and never worked in health care or for that matter the private sector. If he tried to implement this plan in the private sector he would have been laughed out of the room for one reason— he had no experience and thus no way to gauge if his plan would work. But yet in politics, people can fail miserably time and time again and be rewarded for their failures. Why else would he have been re-elected? His signature piece of legislature was a failure. Our collective political biases allows us to  hope and believe in a certain political party will enact  plans that work. But believing in political fantasies can have disastrous results.

Detroit has been governed by the 1960’s by radical leftists and have not elected a Republican candidate in over 50 years. Detroit use to be one of the most prosperous cities in the US but it is now considered the worst. Houses that use to fetch thousands of dollars now can be bought for less than a used car. Entire areas of Detroit are now being destroyed and being given back to nature because no one wants to live there.  One would think a change in party might bring a different result but that is not to be as people would rather believe the political fantasy that Democrats are for the people.

Better to bet on people who failed, lost and then succeeded as they all give us guide posts on how things can work.

Steven Clark

Obama and Shinseki Intended VA Treatment Failure

If you cannot imagine how or why the Veterans Administration has been so shamefully negligent and criminally deceptive in its treatment and record keeping look no further than what Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki said on March 12, 2009. At that time, he stated that the Obama Administration had a proposal which would require U.S. military personnel to pay for their own medical treatment for injuries sustained while in the line of duty. A proposal the Administration refused to take off the table when petitioned to do so by Veterans’ groups. Yes, you read that correctly. U.S. soldiers to pay for injuries sustained while fighting or defending, for or on behalf of this country, with private medical insurance paid for by those same  soldiers out-of-pocket.

harmFast forward 5 years and what do we discover? The same Administration and the same players, President Obama and Secretary Shinseki, have allowed or created a system of medical care for Vets so negligent, so duplicitous and so deadly that it just might either 1) cause soldiers to actually seek private medical insurance or 2) convince the public that the VA can no longer  afford to effectively and efficiently manage the system…thereby recommending some private form of self-insurance.

Do you really believe that people who think our soldiers should pay for their own healthcare for injuries sustained in the line of battle are going to efficiently, and with integrity, administer VA hospitals in a way that encourages Vets to seek treatment?  President Obama is “madder than hell?” You believe he cares! Why in the world would you?

The ends justifies the means. The motto of an Obama Presidency and Progressives generally.

Whether its leaving behind 4 Americans in Benghazi, turning a blind eye for 52 days to a Vet chained to pirson walls in Mexico for having made a wrong turn on the freeway at the U.S.-Mexico border, or failing to provide the most basic medical care to courageous men and women who answered this Nation’s call to service, this Administration is a disgrace and so too will be a Nation that allows itself to continue to be duped and manipulated by these same people and a complicitous media.

Stupid is as stupid does. The problem isn’t them. Its us.

Do you realize we have just had 139 primary races across this country in advance of the November mid-term elections and NOT ONE incumbent was outvoted by their challenger. We just voted to keep the same crooks, incompetents, and professional political class in office in which we have a 20% trust factor.

I know you’re busy and dancing as fast as you can to keep up with your life. But that’s the plan. Overwhelm you so you’re just too tired and feel too helpless to affect anything. Exhaust you so you’re a good little sheep and go your merry way…never realizing the whole herd is being driven right off a cliff.

Stop feeling dis-empowered. Its the wrong attitude and leads to a disastrous outcome. Until we find a better shepherd for this flock let’s stop following the one we’ve got and start thinking for ourselves.